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John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection(L'empire de la perfection)

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France · 2018
1h 35m
Director Julien Faraut
Starring John McEnroe, Mathieu Amalric
Genre Documentary

An immersive film essay on volatile tennis legend John McEnroe. This story follows McEnroe at the height of his glorious career as world champion, documenting his intense strive for perfection, his frustrations, and the hardest loss of his career at the 1984 Roland-Garros French Open.

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The New Yorker by Anthony Lane

What lingers, when this movie is done, are not the regular rallies, during which we survey the whole court, but those moments when we focus on McEnroe alone — on the dancing shuffle of his feet as he bobs and races for a return. Swap the sneakers for tap shoes and the dusty clay for a mirrored floor, and we could be watching Fred without Ginger, lost in the delirium of his art.


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

Faraut is able to conflate the cinema’s quixotic obsession with reality with the athlete’s similarly impossible dream of perfection. In its own playful way, his film celebrates the beautiful folly of both pursuits.


The Hollywood Reporter by David Rooney

Spry and playful at times, pedantic and ponderously repetitive at others, the film is French down to its sweaty tennis socks and ultimately a touch too self-satisfied in its clever unconventionality.


Variety by Jessica Kiang

What on paper might be a standard sporting bio-doc, largely relevant only to tennis aficionados or fans of John McEnroe at the height of his powers, instead becomes a lovely meditation on time and movement, dedication and obsession, image and perception.


Screen International by Nikki Baughan

Director Julien Faraut, who oversees the French Sport Institute’s 16mm film collection, showcases masterful command of the documentary form. His insightful, entertaining and often humorous film will appeal to fans of McEnroe, tennis and sport in general.


Movie Nation by Roger Moore

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection is quite simply the greatest tennis film ever made and one of the finest documentaries to honor any sport.


The Film Stage by Rory O'Connor

In The Realm of Perfection is in essence about that most slippery of topics: the beauty of the game. Sport might tell the truth, but perhaps only cinema can capture it.

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